Our friend and ex-Screen Ranter Jamie Williams over at Think McFly Think has posted an update on the upcoming Superman reboot movie, The Man of Steel, which is being produced over at Warner Bros. under the guidance of David Goyer and Chris Nolan, with Jonathan Nolan potentially directing the film.
Actually, this latest “update” isn’t really that – it’s more a continuation of a rumor floated by TMT from earlier this year, stating that WB is considering Mad Men star Jon Hamm for the role of Superman. TMT made it clear in both reports that the studio has simply been considering Hamm for the part (not to be confused with making an offer), but that hasn’t stopped EW from firing back that Hamm’s reps haven’t heard about the deal and that “Superhamm is just a dream.”
Earlier this year, MTV caught up with Hamm and asked the actor first-hand about the fan push to have him wear the iconic cape. The actor’s response: “It’s a tricky road to go down with some of those heroes, because they’re not flawed. Superman is Superman – he’s invincible, so where’s the drama?”
Well, we know that Goyer and the Nolans are working hard to bring the drama to the next Superman movie, and while these comic book casting sagas can be a migraine for fanboys (See: Captain America and the new Spider-Man), until we know for sure who is going to be donning the red and blue outfit next, I thought I should at least ask you guys: Do you want Jon Hamm to play Superman?
Of course, the first issue to discuss is the age factor. Jon Hamm would be forty before he ever stepped in front of cameras to play Superman, and for some fans (and studio powers that be) that is simply too old. Personally, I’ve never been a big believer in the notion that an actor’s age affects their ability to play a superhero – I’ve always thought that what truly mattered was how the actor’s swagger and stature meshed with the swagger and stature of the superhero they’re playing.
Just take a look at the current roster of actors playing some of our favorite superheroes: Robert Downey Jr. has been in his forties since he first stepped into the Iron Man franchise, however, his eccentric rapscallion personality has been the perfect fit for the eccentric rapscallion persona that has always defined Tony Stark. Chris Hemsworth is in his twenties, but with a full-grown beard and time well-spent in the gym pumping iron, he now looks gruff and tough enough to play a convincing Thor. Meanwhile, Chris Evans is about to turn thirty, yet many fanboys think he has too much of a baby face to pull off the commanding stature of an iconic hero like Captain America.
On the DC movie side: Ryan Reynolds will be trying to prove himself as a proper Hal Jordan when Green Lantern hits theaters next summer – though the fact that Reynolds will be in his mid-thirties has little to do with that issue. Christian Bale was only in his early thirties when he suited up for Batman Begins, however by the time Nolan’s Batman 3 hits theaters in summer 2012 Bale will be staring at age 40. Taking all that into account (especially on the DC side of things), Jon Hamm’s age should in no way restrict him from playing Superman.
More to the point: there is a reason they call him “SuperMAN.” The character (as you can see in just about every piece of artwork inspired by him) has the look of a strong, chiseled and mature man, not so much a man with boyish looks. So if the character looks like a mature man, should there be any debate about casting a mature (read: older) man in the role? Not in my mind – though I’m sure that Smallville fans might have a few points of contention…
Now, we’ve heard names like Zach Levi, Brandon Routh and Tom Welling all being nominated or rumored for the role of Superman, and since all three of those guys are in their late twenties / early thirties, they certainly fit the age range. However, there are superheroes and then there are superhero icons – those heroes who have become household names not so much because of the comic books, TV shows, movies and other merchandising of their characters, but rather because they represent some profound ideal or symbol that resonates with many, many people across the world. Captain America is one of those heroes and Superman is certainly another.
As I’ve already mentioned, Chris Evans being cast as Captain America has a lot of people nervous (Evans himself among them). Cap is simply a guy who has a bright shining aura of red, white and blue heroism surrounding him at all times, while Chris Evans…does not. When that whole Captain America cast saga was unfolding, the big debate was over which actor could do more than wear Cap’s costume – we all wanted to know who could possibly embody his spirit (and Jon Hamm’s name came up then too, might I remind you).
Well, the guy playing the role of Superman has a harder job than that. Not only does the character come with big red boots that need to be filled, there was actually a guy (Christopher Reeve, you may have heard of him) who successfully filled those boots and managed to own the character in full body and spirit – and this was long before the days of muscle-padded costumes and CGI effects. While some people thought Brandon Routh was the second coming of Reeve, many, many, many, other people felt no such love or adoration; in my opinion, Jon Hamm is a guy who could succeed where Routh did not.
Lets break it down: Hamm is tall, dark haired, handsome (I’ll say that just once!), all-American in appearance, with a jaw line that looks like it was shaped after a 1950s comic book character. Due to his role as troubled ad man extraordinaire Don Draper on Mad Men, Hamm has shown an impressive range of dramatic chops (inner turmoil), while women already fantasize about being swept up in his arms and carried off. Necessary ingredients for a proper Superman. Because of the actor’s hilarious turns as a pretty-boy geek on 30 Rock, fanboys can already imagine him in a pair glasses with tussled hair, bringing that “Aw shucks” friendly awkwardness you need from Clark Kent. In Ben Affleck’s upcoming crime thriller The Town, Hamm will show his boiling intensity and action movie physicality, playing a lawman who is hell-bent on collaring a ring of Boston crooks. In The Day The Earth Stood Still… um, let’s just forget that Hamm was in that flick.
The point is: despite the fact that Smallville fans love Welling, or that Superman Returns fans think Routh “wasn’t that bad,” there are few leading men who can convince movie goers the world over that he is our all-powerful protector, while simultaneously convincing us that this godlike figure is still able to disguise himself in plain sight as the caricature of an average schmo. It’ll be even more complicated to convince a modern audience that Superman is vulnerable (emotionally speaking), insecure, and yes, even lonely.
When you properly explore the character there’s actually a lot of deep-seeded emotion and turmoil that comes with The Man of Steel (see: Richard Donner’s Superman II). I think that Hamm is definitely one of those chosen few who can bring both the look and “the drama” to a character who so badly needs to be seen as human again. This will not be lightweight acting if DC/WB wants to do Superman justice in their next cinematic venture – but Hamm is one actor I certainly believe in for the job.
The question is, do you agree?
If you want to talk more about what you expect from the next Superman movie, be sure to read our article “How to Reboot Superman“.